Foster Care

Educational Access for System Involved Students (2017)

SB 213/HB 301 (Kernan)
New Mexico

The proposed legislation provides support to students who face barriers to their educational success through no fault of their own. The bill ensures that homeless students, foster students and other students in the State's care have a smooth transition between schools with full access to programs and services that are available to all other students. This policy values and acknowledges these students for the work they complete to improve and increase their college and career options.

Homeless students and students in the State’s care frequently change schools for reasons that are beyond their control. These youth, who face traumatic changes in their home lives, are repeatedly asked to adapt to new teachers, new classrooms, and new peers. High school mobility has negative effects on academic achievement and is associated with dropping out. This disruption often results in a loss of school credits, a delay in earning a high school diploma and too often a failure to graduate. Studies show high school students who change schools even once are less than 50 percent as likely to graduate as those who don’t change schools. Other studies also suggest that every school move will account for 6 months of delayed academic achievement and growth.

The proposed legislation ensures student records follow students in a timely manner. In recognition of differing graduation requirements among districts, the bill requires districts to grant diplomas to eligible students as long as they meet or exceed the state requirements for graduation. In addition, the legislation will bring State Law into compliance with the Federal Every Student Succeeds Act by mandating that students who change schools have equal access to extracurricular activities including sports, career and technical or other special programs, and timely advice and assistance from counselors to improve college readiness. Finally, the legislation seeks to ensure students who change schools receive the special education services to which they are entitled.